Friday, November 8, 2013

Dogs in Truck Beds, by William Ricioppo

A wind-swept muzzle, ears streaming in the breeze and the sensation of flight all bring a gaping smile to most any dog’s face. But sailing down the road in the back of a truck, the last thing on a pet’s mind is the hazard of the adventure.

Michelle, practice manager for one local veterinarian, says that in her 17 years at Hillside Animal Hospital she has only seen a handful of dogs come in with injuries related to riding in an open truck bed. Although there is no local code against it currently in La Crosse, she adds, “I’d like to see a local ordinance put in place for the overall well-being of the dogs.”

Most people are appalled at news of a dog left to suffer in the heat of a locked car. Leave a dog behind in summer for even a few minutes and return to an angry samaritan, a broken window, or even a police officer. While many Americans are squeamish to these reports, not many realize that more than 100,000 dogs are killed annually in the US from injuries related to riding in open pickup truck beds.

Hit a small bump at 50 miles an hour and a dog can be launched out of a pickup truck. Stop short or get into a fender-bender and a dog can be thrown from the vehicle or slammed into the back of the cab. Even under normal traffic conditions, sliding around in an open truck bed can easily cause contusions, lacerations, and broken bones to a tethered dog.

Other hazards for a dog can include being hit by tree limbs or other surrounding or flying objects. Also, dirt and debris swept-up in the vortex in the bed of a pickup truck can do serious harm to dogs’ eyes and nasal passages, and high-velocity wind turbulence may be painful and damaging to dogs’ ears and hearing.

The majority of dog owners consider their pet a member of the family, and the average American household has more than one. Most people generally would−and do−go out of their way to make their dogs happy, but tossing it in the back of a truck for a quick trip to Home Depot could prove disastrous.
Wisconsin has no laws prohibiting dogs from riding in open trucks. Not all states outlaw the practice and laws vary widely.

Texas prohibits transporting dogs in open truck beds altogether, and to do so is a misdemeanor. Minnesota restricts the activity to within immediate proximity of a designated hunting ground and only while hunting.